Turtle landing on Labuan marine parks dwindle 33% last year

LABUAN: The number of turtle landings on the Labuan Marine Park has declined by 33% compared to 21 nests recorded in 2016.

The decline was due to a number of threats including the increase in the number of oil rigs that anchored close to the parks and uncontrolled fishing activities.

Labuan Marine Park director Anuar Deraman told Bernama the worrying situation must be effectively addressed to avoid the continuous decline.

"Despite the increase of 18% in the hawksbill sea turtle landing on our marine park beach, the overall landing of turtles has declined, we hope we will not see the landing sites perishing," he said.

The islands of Kuraman and Rusukan Besar are the homes for hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys Imbricata), olive-ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) and green turtle (Chelonia Mydas), with 12 nests found on the beaches throughout last year.

"The bright light from the oil rigs at night can disturb the movement of these turtles to lay eggs on our marine parks.

"In addition, there were death cases of turtles reported by members of the public as a consequence of getting stuck in drift nets and hit by the boat engine propellers," Anuar said.

He also disclosed the drifting timber found on the shore of the marine parks that occurred in October to February every year had also prevented turtle landings.

According to Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) marine biologist Juanita Joseph in her previous press statement, the implication of this is that once the local population of breeding turtles has disappeared, it will be gone forever.

"This is because (most) sea turtles only return to breed at their natal beach. They may travel thousands of miles to reach foraging grounds, crossing transnational borders, but all turtles return to the area where they were born to breed and nest," he said. — Bernama